Solar Power Giving Haiti A Hospital It Can Use

Here’s a bit of a shocker: The largest solar-powered hospital in the world that produces more than 100 percent of its required energy during peak daylight hours will soon become operational – in Haiti.

It’s the Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais, known as HUM, and it’s some 30 miles north of Port-au-Prince in Haiti’s Central Plateau. Thanks to the Boston-based nonprofit Partners in Health, the new 300-bed, 200,000-square-foot hospital, expected to open in March, has a roof that’s covered in solar panels.

Haiti solar hospital

image via Partners in Health

This hospital was mentioned in a recent story we ran about how clean energy is driving economic and social recovery in countries hit hard by natural or manmade disaster – Rwanda, in addition to Haiti. But that story didn’t quite capture the scope of this hospital project. As you can see in the picture above, this is an utterly modern structure for Haiti, a place we associated with destitution and rubble.

And the beauty of the solar power system is it will ensure that the hospital can actually function. That’s not something that can always be counted on in Haiti, given its shaky power grid.

According to PIH, in Mirebalais, on average the power fails for three hours every day. This would apparently require scurrying around to get a generator going. That won’t be the case at HUM, where the 1,800 solar panels are expected to produce more energy than the hospital will consume. It took some serious effort to make this happen, according to the team behind it:

“The challenge was in the design and engineering, and getting the solar power produced to mesh with the often unstable grids and the backup generators,” said Jim Ansara, HUM’s director of design and construction. “At each step of the way, we were attempting things that had never before been done in Haiti.”

To make sure that power is put to good use, the hospital was also designed with efficiency in mind: “Other green-friendly features at the hospital include natural ventilation that minimizes the need for air conditioning and motion-sensor activated lights that cut energy consumption by 60 percent when compared with traditional lighting,” PIH said.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • “And the beauty of the solar power system is it will ensure that the hospital can actually function. That’s not something that can always be counted on in Haiti, given its shaky power grid.”

  • Every school in the United States should look exactly like this. Also, an evacuated tube hot water system could suppliment heat and hot water for ALL those buildings!!